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MACH 3: Anatomy of Gillette's Latest Global Launch
Can a consumer product be launched globally in a short time? It can if sufficient resources and time are allocated to planning the effort.
ByGlenn Rifkin
In May 1994, months before the Gillette Company first shipped its hugely successful Sensor Excel razor in the United States, marketing plans were already under way for the product thatwould succeed the Sensor Excel. That month, four Gillette marketing executives met with B.B.D.O., the firm's advertising agency, to set the marketing agenda for a new razor that would render Sensor Excelall but obsolete. That new razor, which would later be named Mach 3, was introduced with all the attendant fanfare in the summer of 1998.
At Gillette, there is no such concept as getting ahead ofoneself. New products go on the drawing board as much as a decade before they are introduced, and it is a safe bet that even as Mach 3 was hitting retail store shelves, Mach 4 or Mach Excel or whateverthe company calls its next breakthrough razor was well along in its development cycle.
When it comes to blades and razors, Gillette is not content with merely having an innovative product. Thecompany has also turned marketing into a quantitative science, pouring time and resources into marketing plans that are almost military in their precision and implementation.
The Mach 3 shaving system,a blend of leading-edge technology and relentless consumer testing, took seven years and $750 million to develop. The first industrial design of the sleek new razor existed in 1993. The product wasnamed two full years before it was first shipped, and the efforts were so secretive that the directors, including billionaire and major shareholder Warren E. Buffett, were not allowed to see the productuntil nine months before its launch.
Gillette has poured another $300 million into marketing the new product -making Mach 3 the world's only billion-dollar razor -and the results are already off...
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